Not long ago I had a conversation with a client who described to me how her department used to handle inbound inquiries from prospective students. It was a two-step process:
1) A student would request more information about the program;
2) Someone would send the information that was requested.
That’s it. No big deal. No pressure. Also, no follow up.
While the program was certainly responsive to the inquiries it would receive, it was not capitalizing on an opportunity to build long-term relationships with prospects by following up with them after their initial inquiries. They simply relied on faith that prospects would review the materials that were sent and return if they had more questions.
Unfortunately, in a world where competition is just a click away, prospective students may not simply return to your Web site after their initial inquiry. This is where planning a “drip marketing” strategy can have a big impact.
Drip marketing campaigns rely on multiple points of contact between an institution and the prospective student, and allow you to build awareness of your programs over time. Rather than flood prospects with information all at once, you provide a constant drip to help grow their knowledge of your offerings over time.
Imagine if instead of the two-step process described above, the school took this route instead:
- A student would request more information about the program;
- Someone would send the information that was requested;
- A follow-up is sent to the prospect to make sure they got the information they needed, and to see if they’d be interested in receiving related information as it becomes available.
- OPTIONAL: If the prospect agrees to ongoing communication, you then deliver relevant content related to their program of interest as it becomes available, thus keeping an ongoing dialogue with the prospect.
Which school would you rather attend? The one that just answers your question or the one that answers your question and then offers suggestions on other topics that may interest you? With the addition of steps 3 and 4, you’ve gone from simply answering a question to becoming a resource.
PLEASE NOTE: the key to a successful drip campaign is permission. Prospects should opt-in to receiving future contact, and be offered an easy way to opt-out of ongoing communications. For more on this, make sure to review the latest CAN-SPAM provisions. However, by at least offering a follow up, even if they decide not to opt-in to future communications, you’re one-step closer to qualifying this individual and you’ve made it clear to them that you hope to serve as resource.
One of the major tenets of permission marketing is the notion that marketers should strive to turn strangers into friends and friends into customers. Sometimes you get lucky and you become instant friends with the people you’re trying to reach. Oftentimes, however, you need to cultivate your relationships with prospective students over a long period of time. Drip marketing is just one way to do that.